I leave on my own terms - Jonathan Jansen

Outgoing UFS VC and Rector says it was always his intention to stay no longer than seven years

Statement by Prof Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the UFS

16 May 2016

On 31 August 2016, I will be stepping down as Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the University of the Free State (UFS).

Since my initial appointment in middle 2009, I informed my senior colleagues that I would not be staying on for longer than seven years, in my estimation the optimal duration of time for making a measurable impact on the academic transformation of a university.

With the renewal of my five­ year contract in 2014, I again informed the leadership of the university council that I would not stay beyond an additional two years (that is, seven years) as academic leader of this great institution of higher learning.

At the end of 2015, I also informed the deans of my intention to start planning the end of my tenure by 2016. That time has come, and the end of August 2016 would mean that I have held the position of Vice-Chancellor and Rector for just more than seven years.

I always expected this moment to be one that would evoke mixed emotions. On the one hand, these past seven years have been by far the most exciting position of leadership that I have been privileged to hold. I cannot begin to list the breadth and depth of the many and daring changes led and undertaken by my incredible team.

To mention a few: the sharp increase in the academic standard for both students and academics, especially in the professoriate; the innovative and unique core curriculum ; the slow, but steady transformation of the residences ; the gradual, but firm changes to the institutional symbolism for greater inclusion, starting with the coat of arms of the university; the positive changes in race relations among many of our students; the rapid growth in external income, especially from trusts and foundations; the unprecedented growth in research productivity and the scholarship of books; the more inclusive language policy; the fundamental transformation of Council and, shortly, the Senate; the demographic diversity of students by race, region, religion, etc.; the massive investments that led to the academic and social transformation of the Qwaqwa Campus; the success of the experimental South Campus in broadening access to degrees for students in our University Preparation Programme; the dramatic rise in the pass rate from around 60% to more than 80%; and the stable financial position of the university despite the incredible budgetary pressures as a result of familiar developments in the external environment.

On the other hand, the decision to vacate the position of Vice-Chancellor and Rector at such an incredible university is a difficult one. I will miss immensely the students of our university, many of whom moved seamlessly from campus through our home and our lives over the past seven years. I will miss the incredible generosity of so many academic and support staff, especially during difficult times.

I will miss the consistent support of the Senate, the unwavering trust of the Council, and the critical, constructive , but always respectful engagement from our two great trade unions. I was really, really fortunate to be in such a special place for so long.

I leave on my own terms, and without any regrets, but with boundless gratitude to all of those who have helped me become a better leader every day in this job.

In September 2016 I will be taking up an invitation as a Fellow at the Center for the Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. I will continue my research, writing and supervision duties at the UFS as well as lead the project to raise the target funding for the Student Bursary Financial Campaign.

Finally, the University Council will shortly advertise the position for a new Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the UFS through a national and international search for the best person for the job.

Jonathan D Jansen, PhD

Vice-Chancellor & Rector, UFS

Issued by the UFS, 16 May 2016